Cobalt Helps Over 5,000 Dealers Make the Most of the CARS Program

CARS image 2On Monday, August 24 the hugely popular Cash for Clunkers or CARS program officially ended. There have been estimates that the rebate system resulted in over 700,000 old, gas-hungry vehicles being traded in for an equal number of efficient, brand-new cars and trucks. According to the Department of Transportation, as of early Monday, over $2.58 billion worth of deals had been approved for processing – leaving just $42 million left to be claimed by dealers nationwide before the Tuesday deadline for filing.

Cobalt and its Dealix division used technology to assist dealers during this landmark program. Beginning in June, Dealix offered a Cash for Clunkers webinar and education materials for dealers through the website to assist dealers in understanding the opportunities created by the program and to help capture sales.

When the program launched, Cobalt’s network capabilities made it possible to push CARS creative across more than 5,000 dealer websites with little or no effort required by the dealers. Cobalt created a promotional banner and landing page that was prominently displayed on almost 5,400 sites, which resulted in approximately 90,000 click-throughs.

Even though the CARS program lasted just a short time, dealers who were “in the know” were able to leverage the value – for both the dealership and their local consumers.  Cobalt was proud to participate with these educational and promotional tools to help dealers get the most out of the program and move inventory.

The Cobalt Group


Building Community: Cobalt’s Annual Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Project – Part 1

Nate Rich and Sean O’Reilly moving siding around the job site

Nate and Sean moving siding around the job site

Throughout the month of August, Cobalt employees were given the opportunity to participate in a nine-day ongoing Habitat for Humanity community project. More than 80 employees from both Seattle and Lynnwood offices took a paid day off work (not a vacation or sick day) to volunteer and be a part of the project. Still, it was by no means a day off. Employees did everything from cleaning up scraps to crawling on scaffolding. The goal was to give 110 percent, go home tired and feel accomplished.

Starting Small

The house being built is a four family structure that began construction in October of 2008. At the beginning of the project, which Cobalt employees also worked on, most of the employee volunteers spent the day digging a foundation. Many were surprised to find themselves working on an actual house this year.

“It was pretty exciting to see a real building standing in the place where a pile of dirt was just the year before,” stated Melissa Satterwhite, Senior Operations Analyst at the Lynnwood office, who participated last year at the start of the build. “There is nothing more impacting to a family than giving them a place to live, a home. I couldn’t be a stronger supporter. Every little bit counts.”

Hard Work
The volunteers arrived at the job site at 8am and worked until 4pm with lunch provided by Cobalt. CEO and co-founder John Holt also participated in cutting 14 foot concrete forms weighing no less than 80lbs to the right depth, a feat that requires a lot of endurance and teamwork.

Julia Nalivaiko and AJ Soysouvahn are measuring a closet, preparing to place wood blocks that will be used to stabilize closet shelves.

Julia and AJ measuring a closet, preparing to place wood blocks that will be used to stabilize closet shelves.

“We partnered with Habitat to give all our employees a chance to participate in a national organization with local emphasis,” declared Holt. “I think it’s my job to articulate Cobalt’s values and give employees opportunities to get involved with efforts that are consistent with our beliefs; but it’s ultimately up to the employees how to use their time and money. Habitat makes it easy because it has a proven volunteer structure and there’s good work to do. Cobalt also pays folks to take a day off to contribute. Plus we get to spend a day with colleagues we may not know, which fosters new bonds and builds community.”

Building Community
Cobalt’s involvement with Habitat for Humanity began as a project that would engage the whole company on a national level including the 200+ employees that work out of their houses. Habitat provides an opportunity for people to be more hands on and offer something more than monetary donations. The goal is to work together as a company, building community both within Cobalt and within the surrounding neighborhoods.

“As a whole, everyone who works for Cobalt works really well together. Everyone was working hard and working together to make sure everything got done. Our jobs are mentally challenging, but not physically… we all were so sore the next morning. But now, I can drive by that house and say, ‘I helped build that and that is amazing,’ ” said Lacey Roberts, Account Advocate at the Lynnwood office.

Day Three Cobalt work crew.  From left to right:  Debby Redmond, Adam Hill, Vinh Nguyen, Jon Johnson (Jon is spelled with the two little dots over the “o”), Julia Nalivaiko, Josh Dand, and Melissa Satterwhite (not pictured: AJ Soysouvanh)

Day Three Cobalt work crew.

Continued Support
Many of the employees who volunteered for Habitat continue to broaden their charitable scope. Both Satterwhite and Roberts have maintained involvement with Habitat for Humanity separate from Cobalt, donating their skills in other areas as well as volunteering. Holt continues to build strong community values, organizing charitable events and donations. This year, Cobalt made a conscious decision to not lower contributions.

“I didn’t think we could justify pulling back, because the community needed us now more than ever,” stated Holt. “In all cases, we’ve maintained support or increased it because it was simply the right thing to do.”

Alyse Speyer
Contributing Editor

The Cobalt Group

Cobalt Group Holds 1st Annual Women’s Summit

IMG_1246 The Cobalt Group employs over 900 people and 40% of the workforce are women, many who hold high ranking positions of leadership. 135 women employees who contribute to the success of Cobalt in a wide variety of roles attended the 1st annual Women’s Summit & Luncheon in June, including CEO John Holt who co-founded the Cobalt Group in 1995.

John kicked off the event with an inspiring talk on the leadership model that Cobalt Group works to incorporate into the organization and encouraged the women attendees to reach high and higher. He spoke about his daughters and his determination to raise them all to feel like they can break through all barriers, including gender to reach their goals. He is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with his 14 year old daughter this month, what “higher goal”  is there for a father and daughter to experience together!

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The Future of the Automotive Industry, John Holt Speaks

President and CEO, Cobalt John Holt
President and CEO, Cobalt

No matter what fuel they run on, cars are going to be core to American transportation and dealers will sell them and service them, whether you look out five years or twenty.  Key aspects of the business will stay the same too; consumers will use credit and buy vehicles on time, trade-ins will create transaction complexity, cars will need some level of service and warranty protection, accessories and personalization will likely grow from today’s baseline, etc.  But many things can and will be improved, ranging from marketing, to the transaction, to customer communication post-purchase.  And, the Internet will power all of those improvements.

My vision for the future says we, as an industry, will be much smarter about understanding who is a likely prospect and able to send them timely and compelling communications that are based on behavioral patterns rather than guestimated patterns. We will do a lot to help shoppers focus in on the vehicle that really best meets their desired criteria by developing much more intuitive configuration services. In doing so, we can wring inefficiencies, frustrations and hours out of the purchase process, which will take place increasingly, though maybe not completely, online, whether it occurs in a just-in-time build-to-order manufacturing context or even in a continuation of today’s make-inventory-available context. I also believe the industry will continue to move closer and closer, if not all the way there, to one-price.  Finally, I have no doubt and lots of optimism about the one-to-one highly personal and exactly timed communication dealers will be able to send to their owner bodies, primarily through personalized communication devices that will be even more ubiquitous than they are already today.

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Digital Mileage – News and Views from Cobalt

Digital Mileage is the corporate blog of The Cobalt Group (Cobalt). Cobalt is North America’s leading provider of digital marketing services for the automotive industry. For over fourteen years, Cobalt’s mission has been to help automobile dealers and manufacturers increase their retailing effectiveness and profitability. Cobalt provides marketing services to half of the automotive dealerships in the United States, as well as automotive dealers in Canada and Mexico. Cobalt’s marketing services are endorsed by approximately two-thirds of the world’s major automotive manufacturers.

The Cobalt Group

The Cobalt Group